Gunsmoke Western # 66 Splash.

“The Enemies!” GunsmokeWestern # 66 (Sep 1961) B/W scan of the originial art splash. Kirby/Ayers.

The card hustler facing the reader reminds me a lot of Paul Newman in The Sting (1973).

It’s also interesting that Lee is signing these stories as “by Stan Lee.” I wonder if any Timely/Atlas experts know when Lee first started doing this. Also, I wonder if the fact that Dick Ayers started signing these stories with the artist/inker’s names made many readers curious to know more about who the people were behind these stories. This may have resulted in readers starting to recognize the style of certain artists like Kirby, and fan mail Lee received from readers asking about artists like Kirby may have led to the famous Marvel “credit boxes” where we see Lee crediting the personnel on each book. I don’t suppose all that 60s fan mail exists in a Marvel file somewhere? I heard that Marvel had a huge “Kirby file” put together years ago in case of a possible lawsuit — I would love to know what’s in that file. Could be some great historical information — none of which I think we will ever see.

I also think Lee was beginning to take pride in these stories he did with Jack Kirby — I suspect Lee knew there was something different and special about Jack’s work, and that’s another reason why he wanted to make sure his name was on those stories.